London and Delhi – the Past
Cities have traditionally been dirty places, and London was for a long time the biggest, dirtiest and most polluted city in the world. It was Edward I, the medieval king, who first passed laws limiting the burning of sea coal in London in an attempt to clean the air. That was back in 1306. [Over 300 years later in 1661, John Evelyn presented to King Charles II a package of measures to deal with the “inconveniency of the smoak of London”. Evelyn expressed the perennial complaint that “the sordid and accursed avarice of some few particular persons should prejudice the health and felicity of so many”, puzzling that humanity “whose very being is Aer should not breath it freely when they may”]
Clearing the air – New Delhi and London today
Worldwide, around 18,000 people die every day as a result of air pollution. About one in four premature deaths in India have been linked to one or other type of pollution, accounting for around 2.5 million people in 2015. But the problem is concentrated in cities, mostly related to the burning of fuel, and New Delhi has one of the biggest challenges with some of the poorest air quality.
Clearing the air – New Delhi and London in the future
Whether you live in London, New Delhi or any other city in the world, you should be able to breathe clean air. Our air doesn’t have to be polluted. Action to clear the air will also improve our health, through shifting to clean energy give us better homes and places to work, make cities more pleasant to move around, lower energy and medical bills and, vitally, help stop climate change.